Guildford’s rising alt-rock stars Follower recently dropped their debut EP ‘Against The Ropes’ and have some exciting tours and shows coming up to support it. We put a few questions to them about the record, their upcoming plans, and their aims and ambitions for the band.
Luke Archer – vocals
Ollie Moor – guitar
Damien Mcvey – guitar/vocals
Joe Durrant – bass
Cody Jones – drums
HOW LONG HAVE YOU GUYS BEEN WORKING ON ‘AGAINST THE ROPES’?
Ollie: We’ve all been writing songs for as long as we remember so it’s quite hard to definitively say when the process started. I know that Luke wrote Someday Soon when he was 14 so I guess you could say since then! Having said that me and Luke met in 2016 and that’s when we started working specifically on the band so that would probably be more accurate. We finished writing all the songs in early 2018 but I think it would be fair to say that the whole process is still going because of all the promotion work we’re still doing for it.
ARE YOU PROUD OF HOW THE RECORD TURNED OUT?
Damien: It is extremely hard to put into words how proud we all are with this record. We laid all of our personal experiences on the table and incorporated them into the music. It was a very therapeutic process for us all!
HAVE YOU HAD A GOOD RESPONSE SO FAR FROM FAMILY & FRIENDS ETC?
Cody: The response we’ve had so far has been unbelievable. Our friends and family have supported us more than we could’ve asked for, and we’ve had support from complete strangers too who have come down to our gigs and sang our lyrics to us which was a complete honour! For a first EP we couldn’t have asked for more!
YOU TALK ABOUT USING MUSIC AS SUPPORT…IS THAT SOMETHING YOU’VE ALL DONE BEFORE?
Luke: As far back as I can remember I used music for support, even if it were just to escape any shitty reality that was going on around me. We’ve had discussions as a band and all of us have used music to help us through tough times, whether that’s been something we can relate to or whether we’ve used it to distract ourselves. Often, although an artist will write a song with a specific experience or story in mind, listeners will usually imprint their own experiences or stories onto that song and find a way to relate. So by finding a song that somehow explains the EXACT situation you’re in or that you’re going through, it gives a sense of relief knowing you’re not the only one going through it and there are other listeners feeling the same too. Sometimes it can be hard to put words onto our feelings so finding music that answers it can be really healing.
DO YOU THINK CONVERSATIONS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH IN MUSIC HAVE BEEN HAPPENING MORE REGULARLY RECENTLY? DO YOU THINK WE’RE IMPROVING ON THAT FRONT?
Joe: That’s a tricky question to answer, because from personal experience I feel mental health can be very long and complex thing to understand. I feel it’s because of this, that in all aspects of life, it has taken a very long time for it be given more of the attention it deserves in being understood and properly addressed. But I would say i have seen a huge improvement in the acknowledgement of it, especially in the music industry from recent years.
Its a subject which is often touched based on in a lot of artists’ music and has for decades, though it may not always be clear and obvious. I do sadly feel there have been many times when when it has been made very blatant and it has taken a very long time for the correct conversations to be happening. But I feel in recent times we have taken steps in the right direction, with more people talking about it and willing to listen and understand mental health. Hopefully this will be something we continue to improve on and we continue to give it more of the attention it needs throughout all aspects of life.
IS ONE OF YOUR AIMS TO TRY AND HELP OTHERS THROUGH YOUR MUSIC THE WAY YOU’VE BEEN HELPED BY OTHER PEOPLE’S MUSIC?
Cody: music has helped us all in one way or another, and this inspires us to want to help other though music too. We may not always offer a solution to problems, but we try to offer relatability, or an escape. Knowing else that someone else has gone through a similar experience can be liberating and less alone, so we try to provide this in our lyrics and the vibe of the sound in our music.
Joe: Music has had a massive impact on all of our lives, whether that’s the music we play or the music we listen to, it means a lot to us. When we started writing the EP we always wanted to try and write something people could listen to and connect too, in the same way we have before with songs. I think if the record had that sort of impact on someone’s and helped them. Then that would mean the world to us that we were able to give something back to someone, in the same way we took something from the music we listened too.
STICKING WITH THE THEME OF SHOWS FOR A MOMENT, HOW WOULD YOU SAY YOUR LIVE SHOWS DIFFER FROM THE SOUND ON YOUR RECORD?
Luke: It sounds pretty obvious, but when we perform live we certainly a lot more raw. We certainly put as much passion and energy in our live shows but when there are people watching and listening to you it becomes a different kind of energy. In the recording studio it’s a lot more self-involved, putting your emotions and experiences on the table and digging inwards to put vulnerability into the recordings, whereas onstage the music is specifically being performed to an audience so the energy become a lot more outwardly directed at the people in the room. It also helps that (even on the smallest of stages) we have room to jump around go wild rather than being contained within a recording room!
DO YOU THINK A LOT ABOUT THE WAY YOU COME ACROSS ON STAGE? THE IMAGE, PERFORMANCE ETC
Ollie: We’ve thought about this quite a lot because I think it’s important for bands to look cohesive on stage so we try and coordinate the way we dress in some way but at the same time we want it to feel authentic and natural so we don’t plan every move! In terms of performance we’ve put a lot of time into rehearsing as we play to backing tracks and have an intro song that leads us into the first song in our set so it’s really important that that runs smoothly.
WHAT EXCITING NEW DATES AND TOURS HAVE YOU GOT COMING UP IN THE NEAR FUTURE THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
Damien: We have a few London Dates coming up in May/June which we are looking forward to. Also we are supporting To Kill Achilles in Gillingham at the end of March, we are stoked to share the stage with them! We have a lot more going on behind the scenes with more shows and tours for later in the year. All will be unveiled in due course.
Cody: we’re currently in talks about playing a few festivals over summer but can’t reveal anything yet – check our socials for further information once confirmed!
NOW THAT YOU’VE GOT THE EP RELEASE OUT OF THE WAY, WILL YOU BE MOVING ON TO FOCUS ON WRITING A FULL LENGTH? HAS WORK BEGUN ON THAT YET AND WHEN MIGHT WE EXPECT IT?
Luke: We don’t currently have any plans of a full release within the foreseeable future, but have plans to release a couple of singles later this year and see where those take us. As the EP was written 2 years ago our sound has evolved and changed quite a bit, so we want to release these singles to see what kind of reception we get. We do have plans to release a full length (as we certainly have enough demos to make a full album out of!), but just a little later down the line.
HOW DOES THE WRITING PROCESS WORK FOR YOU GUYS AS A BAND?
Joe: We don’t really necessarily have a set in stone formula to how we write. But a lot of the time it starts with one of us coming up with an idea, which then leads to us all putting input into the song one by one. We will often do this at Ollie’s bedroom studio over the space of a few weeks until it’s either finished, or scrapped if we feel its not made the cut for the release in mind.
WHAT OTHER TOPICS AND THEMES DO YOU THINK WILL CONTINUE TO INSPIRE YOUR WRITING IN THE FUTURE?
Ollie: At the moment I’m not entirely sure because we’ve always just written songs about the things we experience in life so who knows what will happen! Having said that we’ve already got some new material in the works that is fairly similar to what we’ve done with Against The Ropes but we’re also trying to explore different avenues because otherwise it’ll get a bit stale.
WHAT IS THE SCENE LIKE DOWN IN GUILDFORD AT THE MOMENT?
Cody: the music scene in Guildford is on full throttle at the moment! There are many music venues, including: The Holroyd Arms, The Boileroom, The Electric Theatre, G-Live, The Star Inn, The Alley Bar, Pews, Komo, and pretty much every pub in Guildford will host acoustic sets. There are also always people busking around Guildford’s town centre streets, and Guildford hosts many performing festivals and events throughout the year too.
Ollie: I personally think YONAKA are one of the most exciting bands out right now because of their unique sound and great songs. There are also some really cool bands in our Guildford scene like Gatvol, Versa, Xero, Buds and High Rise so definitely check them out!
OUTSIDE OF MUSIC WHAT DO YOU GUYS ENJOY DOING?
Luke: When we’re not doing music we tend to play around quite a lot. Me and Joe claim to be professional bottle flippers, and constantly enter into battles against one another, trying to do trick flips or reach a far target whilst the others in the band give us disapproving looks… We also like to kick about on Damien’s skate board as a lot of us skated as teens, and tend to have a lot of banter. Between recording the songs on the EP, we played video games when it was raining, such as Call Of Duty Zombies, and loved kicking a football about in the sun.
AND FINALLY, WHAT ARE YOUR LONG TERM PLANS FOR THE BAND AND WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE FOLLOWER TO BE IN FIVE YEARS TIME?
Ollie: We’ve always been an ambitious band so hopefully we’ll have achieved world domination by that point! I think we’d all love to see a bit of the world and start playing shows outside the UK because it would be amazing to get the opportunity to travel in a band. Having said that the reason we started the band was because we all love making music so I just hope that we’re still around making the music we want to make!